Ask TSJ: Breaking Up Right

LIFE IS HARD. It seems like every new day brings a new question that, try as you might, you’re just unable to find an answer for. The Smoking Jacket understands this, and we’re here to help. TSJ’s editor, Melissa Bull, and Headshots columnist, Mike Spry, set aside some time in their busy schedules to answer your questions in a feature we’ve cleverly named “Ask TSJ.”

This week’s incredible question comes from our good friend Evelyn in Illinois.

Dear TSJ,

What’s the best way to leave your partner of three years? A little background: We both teach English at a suburban college, we’ve known each other since grad school, we still have a reasonably healthy sex life, and I only cheat on him emotionally, and twice with blow jobs. We moved in together about a year ago, and while it has been okay, I just can’t see being in it for the long haul. He’s an alright guy, but there’s no… you know? I’d be fine with never seeing him again, so what’s the best way to do this. Text message? Midnight move? Have him killed?

Evelyn in Belleville, Illinois


Dear Evelyn,

As an English major myself, I have seen this predicament play out in faculties all across North America. I’ve used, and seen used, many many methods of break up in situations like this to varying degrees of success. Verbal abuse, infidelity, prosaic breakup email, accepting a job elsewhere, returning to school for a second PhD may all work out in your favor, but each carry their own inherent risk. My advice to you is to use the tried, tested, and true illicit sexual affair with a coed. This forces your unwanted partner to break up WITH YOU, and yet cursed with the secret (saving your job) as they don’t want to be embarrassed within their incestuous academic community. So head down to the student pub, get some young and eager boy or girl to comeback to your overpriced condo to give you the old mid-semester oral exam, and make sure to get caught. Your relationship will be over before the coed gets back to their parents’ basement.

Good luck,


Wow, we have college teachers reading TSJ? I’m so impressed! But wait — let me get this straight. You went through all the way through school from kindergarten to a PhD in English — probably rising up through the ranks of experimental poetry writing and obscure theater practices and post-colonial Ezra Pound and whatnot and you still don’t know how to break up with your dude? What did they teach you on the road to your English ed? Aren’t all liberal arts degrees about free-range relationships with your buds and teachers? About counting how many people have seen you nekkid at book launches? How many just felt you up? How many felt you and your best friend up? Etc? No? Where did you get this so-called degree?

Anyway, since you’re maybe like a Doogie Howser prodigy who hasn’t dabbled around enough to get her feet wet proper, let me say this — no need to call in the big guns. By big guns I mean gun guns. No need for violencia. Peace, man. Give it some chances. All you gotta do is you just say something real sweet to your soon to be ex about how you care, it was so great, but you’re not ready, you’re moving out, you’re taking BOTH copies of Nabokov’s Lolita with you because they were both yours when you moved in and you need two copies and lying about how many BOOKS YOU OWN would be really stupid an you would NEVER DO THAT.

When you see each other in the hall you say, “Hey, how are you?” You smile but not all the way with your eyes.

And repeat. Till time passes. And then everyone’s moved on and okay, and slightly better friends for having seen each others’ hoohas.

Yeah. Hoohas. It’s a word I learned it in school.


Got a question for Melissa and Mike? CLICK HERE and fire away. If we use it… your life will improve immediately. 

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